Donald Trump announced his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday night, likely sparking another period of turmoil in American politics, and particularly in his own political party.
“To make America great and great again, tonight I am announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said from the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he stood on a stage lined with American flags and banners. Make America Great Again.
Vowing to defeat Joe Biden in 2024, he declared: “America’s golden age is upon us.”
The long-awaited announcement by the twice-impeached president who instigated a deadly attack on Congress seems guaranteed to deepen sharp partisan divisions that have fueled fears of increased political violence.
But it also comes as Trump’s position in the Republican Party is suddenly in question. Trump spoke at Mar-a-Lago a week after midterm elections in which his Republican Party fell short of expectations, lost the Senate and appeared to be on course for only a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives.
In his remarks, Trump took credit for the Republican victory in the House of Representatives, even though they are poised to win a far smaller majority than expected. “Nancy Pelosi is fired. Isn’t that nice?” He said. The Associated Press has not yet projected which party will win the majority.
In a party so far dominated by Trump, defeats by high-profile candidates backed by Trump have led to open attacks on the former president and calls for him to delay his announcement or not run at all. As Trump’s position slipped, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, entered a strong fight after winning re-election last week.
Trump’s announcement also coincided Tuesday with the release of Mike Pence’s memoir, God Helped Me, in which the former president’s once-loyal lieutenant criticizes him for his behavior on Jan. 6. The former vice president is also maneuvering toward a possible 2024 run despite falling out of favor with the Maga base.
Referring to Republican failures in 2022 and defeat in 2020, Trump insisted that he was the only candidate who could deliver a Republican victory in 2024.
“This is not a task for a politician or a conventional candidate,” he said. “This is a task for a great movement.”
His third bid comes as he faces mounting legal troubles, including Justice Department investigations into the removal of hundreds of classified documents from the White House to his Florida estate and his role in the Jan. 6 attack. Trump has denied wrongdoing and used the attacks to bolster his narrative that he is being unfairly targeted by his political opponents and the mysterious “deep state” bureaucracy.
“I am a victim,” Trump said, referring to the Russia investigation and the raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate.
On Tuesday, however, Trump continued with his race.
Painting a bleak portrait of the United States, with “blood-soaked” city streets and an “invasion” at the southern border, Trump said his campaign was a “quest to save our country.”
In the less than two years since Biden took office, a period Trump has called a “pause,” he has accused his successor of causing “pain, hardship, anguish and despair” with his economic and domestic policies.
Trump offered an alternative vision, which he called an “agenda of national greatness.” Among the policy proposals he endorsed on Tuesday were the death penalty for drug dealers, term limits for members of Congress and placing the American flag on Mars. Tapping into the social feuds he likes to inflame, Trump pledged to protect “fathers’ rights” and prevent transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.
Although he did not specifically mention his stolen election lies, he promised to overhaul the nation’s voting laws, promising that the winner would be announced on election night. In close contests, it can take days before a state has enough votes to predict a winner, but Trump and his allies have used the delay to spread baseless conspiracy theories about the results.
Despite promising to make remarks as “elegant” as the gilded room he stood in, Trump’s rambling, hour-long speech devolved into name-calling and jeers, whipping up “fake news,” mocking former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s accent and accusing Biden of “falling asleep ” at international conferences. At one point he seemed to confuse the Civil War with the Reconstruction period that followed and mocked climate science.
While not conceding defeat in 2020, Trump insisted that beating Biden in 2024 would be much easier because “everyone can see what a bad job he’s done.”
He called Biden “the face of left-wing failure and government corruption” and accused him of worsening inflation and “surrendering” America’s energy independence. He also criticized the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as “the most shameful moment in the history of our country.”
“Our country is being destroyed before your eyes,” he said, calling his four years in office a resounding success, despite leaving behind a nation wracked by disease and political turmoil.
Now 76, Trump has long been seen as a colorful but controversial figure in American life, a thrice-married New York real estate mogul, reality TV and tabloid star who flirted with politics but never committed.
But in 2015, after finding a place as a prominent voice of right-wing opposition to Barack Obama — and racist conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth — Trump entered the race for the Republican nomination to succeed the 44th president.
Proving immune to scandal, whether over his personal conduct, allegations of sexual abuse or persistent courting of the far right, he wiped out a huge Republican field and then pulled off a historic shock victory over the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 election.
Trump’s presidency has been chaotic but undeniably historic. Senate Republicans playing political and constitutional acumen helped install three supreme court justices, cementing a dominant right-wing majority that has now repealed abortion rights and weakened gun control laws while eyeing further sweeping changes.
Trump’s third pick for the Supreme Court, replacing liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett, a hardline Catholic, came shortly before the 2020 election. That contest, with Obama’s running mate Joe Biden, was fought in the shadow of protests for racial justice and the coronavirus pandemic, the latter a test that the Trump administration mishandled as hundreds of thousands died.
Trump was defeated in a landslide, with Biden garnering more than 7 million more votes and the same Electoral College victory, 306-232, that Trump enjoyed over Clinton, a victory that Trump then called a landslide.
But Trump’s refusal to accept defeat, based on his “big lie” about election fraud, fueled election subversive efforts in key states, the deadly attack on the US Capitol by supporters and far-right groups on January 6, the second impeachment to fuel that insurgency ( and a second acquittal, if with more Republican defectors) and deepening the crisis of American democracy.
With a third bid for the White House, Trump hopes to defy political history. Only one former president, Grover Cleveland, served two consecutive terms. Cleveland was elected in 1884 and 1892, but unlike Trump, he won the 1888 election.
Trump flirted with announcing a new candidacy during Biden’s first two years in office, eventually holding off until the midterm elections, which did not go as he or his party expected. But while high-profile backers of Trump’s stolen election bribe were defeated, including his pick for Arizona governor, Kari Lake, more than 170 were elected, the Washington Post writes.
Until his midterm turnaround, Trump dominated polls of potential Republican candidates in 2024. His closest rival in such polls, DeSantis, reportedly let donors know he would not run against Trump. But the landscape has changed now. DeSantis won re-election in a landslide, delivered a confident victory speech amid cries of “two more years” and surged in the polls — prompting Trump’s attacks. At least one Republican megadonor, Ken Griffin, has said he supports the Florida governor.
If Trump fires DeSantis because there are so many other challengers and wins the nomination, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would bar him from running again in 2028. But a rematch in 2020 remains possible. Although Biden will soon turn 80 and has faced the question of whether he should run for a second term himself, he is preparing a re-election campaign.